DNR: Good time to reflect on wild turkey’s comeback

DNR: Good time to reflect on wild turkey’s comeback

 
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Showcasing the DNR

A few dozen turkeys are shown outside a house on a snowy morning.

Thanksgiving a good time to reflect on wild turkey’s comeback

By CASEY WARNER
Marketing and Outreach Division

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Hearing wild turkeys gobbling and clucking as you step out into the backyard early in the morning is common for many Michiganders now, but it wasn’t always so.

As we mark the annual holiday that revolves around turkey, let’s look back and celebrate these birds’ remarkable return from near extinction, often called one of the country’s greatest wildlife conservation success stories.

There are more than 6 million wild turkeys in the United States today, but seeing – or hearing – one was rare as recently as 50 years ago.

In Michigan, wild turkeys had been plentiful prior to the arrival of settlers, with an estimated 94,000 in the state at that time.

A male turkey fans its tail while standing in the snow.By the 1950s, Michigan’s wild turkey population had disappeared due to unregulated hunting and habitat loss.

Bringing turkeys back from the brink

Thanks to the efforts of a committed cadre of conservationists over the last 70 years, 200,000 wild turkeys now call Michigan home. They can be found in parts of every Lower Peninsula county and areas of the Upper Peninsula.

By 1965, the turkey population had rebounded enough that hunting was allowed. Today Michigan ranks sixth in the nation for number of turkey hunters, with consistently high hunter success and satisfaction rates.

Michigan’s spring turkey season is open in every county, and fall hunting is open in many areas of the state.

“We’ve gone from extirpation of all wild turkeys in Michigan to today we have over 200,000 birds and you can hunt turkeys in every county in the state,” said Al Stewart, who retired last year after a 50-year career working in wildlife management for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, 20 of those years as the DNR’s upland game bird specialist.

A turkey is shown being released in a reintroduction project from the 1980s.“It has brought so much pleasure and enjoyment to people either in viewing wild turkeys and knowing they were there or the ability to hunt in both the spring and fall.”

Early wild turkey restoration attempts in Michigan using hatchery programs failed because the turkeys raised still behaved like domesticated birds, weren’t equipped to live in the wild and succumbed to disease, predators and weather.

In the 1950s, the Michigan Department of Conservation (now the DNR) purchased 50 wild turkeys from Pennsylvania and released them in West Michigan.

Stewart was part of a later effort to reintroduce the birds. In 1983 he, along with many others, brought wild turkeys to Michigan from Iowa and Missouri and established some flocks in the southern part of the state. He was in charge of teaching DNR staff how to trap offspring of those birds to then move them to other locations in the state to help expand this restoration activity.

Ongoing efforts

Since the 1980s, the DNR has worked with many partners to complete numerous releases of trapped wild birds and improve wild turkey habitat.

A DNR worker is shown at a growing location for native grasses.“We created some of the highest-quality sustainable turkey hunting in the nation,” Stewart said. “That says a lot when your competitors for that are places like Missouri, that is the best wild turkey habitat in the world and the highest population. They don’t have deep snow.”

The DNR’s habitat improvement work in recent years has included projects like creating Michigan’s Turkey Tracts, public hunting areas with habitat intensively managed for turkeys. There are now five Turkey Tracts locations, in Allegan, Barry, Montcalm, Oakland and Tuscola counties.

“The program highlights areas of public land where the habitat has been intentionally managed for wild turkeys, creating great hunting conditions for new or seasoned hunters,” Adam Bump, the DNR’s current upland game bird specialist, said.

The National Wild Turkey Federation, at its annual Convention and Sport Show in Nashville earlier this year, presented the Michigan DNR with its Land Stewardship Award, which honors companies and/or government agencies that promote wildlife habitat management.

“Michigan DNR is at the forefront of keeping managed public lands open to the public, while maintaining high-quality habitat on these managed areas. The agency has a long history of collaborating with other state and federal agencies in larger landscape efforts to manage the public lands in Michigan. Moreover, the department has a long history of partnering with non-governmental organizations like the NWTF to accomplish habitat restoration and conservation projects on its lands,” read a NWTF news release about the award.

A DNR staffer is shown getting ready to release a turkey into the wild.Scott Whitcomb, director of the DNR Office of Public Lands, accepted the award “on behalf of the DNR and the passionate sportsmen and women who contribute to and benefit from this effort.”

“In Michigan, we’re blessed with an abundance of natural resources and wild places you don’t come across every day, providing the backdrop for hunting, fishing and all types of outdoor recreation and relaxation. This award recognizes sound, strategic stewardship of 4.6 million acres of state-managed land in Michigan, an achievement that would not be possible without conservation partners like the National Wild Turkey Federation.”

In addition to the 4.6 million acres of DNR-managed public land open to hunting, millions of additional private-land acres are leased or enrolled in programs to allow hunting for all. Visit Michigan.gov/Hunting for more information about where to hunt.

Hunters made it possible

The DNR and partners like the NWTF put in the work behind the wild turkey’s comeback, but it would not have been possible without hunters.

A pair of turkeys are shown in a green and grassy scene.Revenue to fund wild turkey management efforts – for the past several decades, now and into the future – comes directly from the sale of hunting licenses and equipment.

The Michigan Game and Fish Protection Fund, funded primarily through hunting and fishing license fees, is the DNR’s largest revenue source and is critical to its conservation work.

And since 1937, when Congress passed the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (also known as the Pittman-Robertson Act), states have received funds from manufacturer taxes on ammunition, firearms and archery equipment for wildlife restoration. These funds are distributed to the states based in part on the number of hunting licenses each state sells.

After passage of this groundbreaking legislation, conserving wild turkeys and other wildlife gained nationwide support and habitat management began.

“Sportsmen and women play an essential role in conservation efforts throughout the country,” said Rebecca Humphries, co-CEO of the National Wild Turkey Federation. “Many people don’t realize, including some hunters and anglers, that the sale of licenses and equipment – not state tax dollars – are the primary source of conservation funding for Michigan and other states.”

So, while the turkey on your Thanksgiving table may not be a wild one, take a moment to raise a glass to its feathered brethren in the wild and the conservationists and hunters who engineered their comeback.

Read a sidebar story with fun facts about wild turkeys, and learn more about turkeys and turkey hunting at Michigan.gov/Turkey.

Check out previous Showcasing the DNR stories in our archive at Michigan.gov/DNRStories. To subscribe to upcoming Showcasing articles, sign up for free email delivery at Michigan.gov/DNREmail.


Note to editors: Contact: John Pepin, Showcasing the DNR series editor, 906-226-1352. Accompanying photos and a text-only version of this story are available below for download. Caption information follows. Credit Michigan Department of Natural Resources, unless otherwise noted.

Text-only version of this story.

Text-only version of sidebar story.

1980s: Wild turkeys from Iowa are released in Clinton County as part of the southern Michigan wild turkey restoration program in the 1980s. Pictured are retired Michigan Department of Natural Resources upland game bird specialist Al Stewart (in green) and some of the partners involved in the project.

Award: Earlier in 2022, the National Wild Turkey Federation presented the Michigan Department of Natural Resources with its Land Stewardship Award, which honors companies and/or government agencies that promote wildlife habitat management. Pictured, left to right, are NWTF regional biologist Ryan Boyer; Scott Whitcomb, director of the DNR’s Office of Public Lands, who accepted the award; and NWTF CEO Becky Humphreys. (Photo credit: Lexi Kelly)

Backyard: Today, wild turkeys are a common sight in Michigan, but in the first half of the 20th century, they had disappeared from the state.

Driveway: Dozens of wild turkeys gather in a driveway in Dickinson County on a cold winter morning. The family living here was feeding the birds. The feeding of turkeys has helped widen their geographic distribution.

Habitat: The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has partnered with the National Wild Turkey Federation on many wild turkey habitat improvement projects. Here, crabapple trees are repotted for planting at Rose Lake State Wildlife Area in Clinton and Shiawassee counties.

Hunters1 and Hunters2: The wild turkey’s comeback would not have been possible without hunters, as revenue to fund turkey management efforts comes directly from the sale of hunting licenses and equipment.

Male: Male turkeys have spurs on their legs, which get longer as they age and are used to grapple with other turkeys over breeding rights, and a “beard,” which looks like a miniature horse’s tail, on their chest.

Release1 and Release2: Releases of wild turkeys in Michigan have aided greatly in efforts to re-establish the species. Pictured here is a project to trap and relocate turkeys from Barry State Game Area in Barry County to the Baldwin area in Lake County.

Tract: A successful hunter displays the turkey he shot at one of Michigan’s Turkey Tracts, public hunting areas where habitat is intensively managed for wild turkeys.

Turkeys1 and Turkeys2: Once a declining species in Michigan and across the country, wild turkeys now can be found in all counties in the Lower Peninsula and in some parts of the Upper Peninsula.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to Michigan.gov/DNR.
DNR seeks feedback on Outdoor Recreation Plan

DNR seeks feedback on Outdoor Recreation Plan

 
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DNR News

Nov. 10, 2022

Contact: John Pepin, 906-226-1352

DNR seeks feedback on Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan

Public comment period open now through Dec. 1

A cover image of the SCORP is shown.Michigan’s outdoor recreation system – including public lands and waters, playgrounds and bike paths, and so much more – provides critically important social, health, economic and environmental benefits to us all.

Over the past several months, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has been compiling information about the state’s integrated system of federal, state and local recreation assets.

The DNR is seeking input on its draft 2023-2027 Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP). A comment period is open through Dec. 1.

The DNR’s SCORP is:

  • A broad, flexible, five-year strategic plan designed to evaluate ongoing and emerging outdoor recreation trends, needs and issues, and to establish priorities for achieving outdoor recreation goals.
  • An ongoing framework and action plan for state and local recreation partners to guide their outdoor recreation management and policy decisions.
  • Required to access certain federal grants; it shapes investment by the state of Michigan and local communities in priority outdoor recreation infrastructure, land acquisition and programming.

Most significantly among the plan’s activities, a statewide survey was conducted in coordination with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and other partners.

The results of this effort have demonstrated the significance of outdoor recreation to the state’s economy, health and well-being. The plan provides regional breakdowns of data collected.

Among the results, Michigan’s outdoor recreation system provides a total net economic value of $165 billion. The cost of annual illness savings realized through outdoor recreation totaled $2.76 billion.

The top motivations to participate in outdoor recreation in Michigan were to study nature (94%), feel better mentally and emotionally (93%), have time away from work or life routines (89%) and exercise and being physically challenged (82%).

The top three recreation activities by participation respectively included, going for a walk on streets or sidewalks, visiting the beach but not swimming and going for a walk on local unpaved trails or paths.

To review the plan visit the DNR’s website. Send comments or suggestions to DNR-SCORP@Michigan.gov no later than Dec. 1.

Public input on the draft will be incorporated, as appropriate, in development of the final plan, which will be submitted to the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Park Service by Dec. 31.

Early next year, the plan will be put into effect for the next five years, guiding actions of numerous entities seeking to improve outdoor recreation opportunities for everyone across the state of Michigan.

DNR shares fisheries survey findings

DNR shares fisheries survey findings

 
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DNR News

Nov. 9, 2022

Contacts: Gary Whelan, 517-242-2767

Lake Michigan: Ben Turschak, 231-350-9440 and Dave Clapp, 231-330-6745

Saginaw Bay: David Fielder, 989-590-8956, Andrew Briggs, 586-612-9228 and Todd Wills 586-904-2058

Lake Erie:  Sara Thomas, 734-718-0474 and Todd Wills 586-904-2058

DNR shares fisheries survey findings from Lake Michigan, Lake Erie and Saginaw Bay

A lot of factors go into effective fisheries management, including the valuable research data conducted each year by Michigan Department of Natural Resources research vessels on Lake Michigan, Lake Erie and Saginaw Bay that guides management decisions on how best to care for fisheries now and for future generations.

DNR Fisheries Chief Jim Dexter said the most recent survey results highlight important population trends among walleye, yellow perch and other species, as well as factors such as angler intensity and presence of forage fish.

“Regular surveying of Michigan waters tells us things about state fisheries that we’re not going to learn through other means, and that data helps us make sound, informed choices for different regions,” said DNR Fisheries Chief Jim Dexter. “Our research crews and biologists, along with state and federal partners, do an incredible job of collecting and analyzing information that’s essential to these three regions.”

Here are the highlights by each survey area:

Lake Michigan

Trawl on Lake MichiganThe DNR’s survey vessel Steelhead and vessels from two other agencies cooperatively plied the waters of Lake Michigan in August, sampling key forage fish populations critical to the health of salmon, steelhead and lake trout, and found forage fish numbers to be improving in Michigan waters.

The 2022 hydroacoustic survey comprised 26 transects spanning nearshore and offshore regions around Lake Michigan. A transect essentially is a predetermined line, from point A to point B, that determines the survey route.

The S/V Steelhead completed 13 of these transects in cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey research vessel Sturgeon (eight transects) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service R/V Baird (five transects).

“The work was completed in late summer in spite of midseason shipyard repair delays that gave the S/V Steelhead a later-than-normal start,” said Dave Clapp, Charlevoix Fisheries Research Station manager. “Thanks to the crew’s hard work and favorable weather, though, the S/V Steelhead was able to complete the largest number of annual survey transects since this survey began in 2004.”

Rainbow smelt and alewifeTransects completed by the S/V Steelhead this season stretched from waters offshore of Chicago in the south, around the Michigan shore, to Platte Bay in the north. At roughly the same time, the R/V Sturgeon completed transects along the Illinois and Wisconsin shore in the west, while the R/V Baird completed transects along the Wisconsin and Michigan shore in the north.

While final survey results have not yet been compiled, several noteworthy observations emerged:

  • As expected in recent years, forage fish abundance was much greater in nearshore areas than further offshore. However, unlike previous years, midwater trawl catches and apparent fish densities were higher in the northeast nearshore than in the southeast nearshore where fish abundance is nearly always greatest.
  • Largest catches in midwater trawls were yearling and older rainbow smelt, alewife and bloater. Yearling and older rainbow smelt have rarely been encountered in recent years, so the large catches this year mark a sharp departure from recent surveys.
  • The size distribution of the alewives captured in 2022 was also very different than recent years. Typically, smaller size groups have dominated the catch, but this year’s alewife catches included a much broader range of sizes from 4-8 inches and included some large individuals greater than 8 inches in length. Moreover, very few young-of-year (< 4 inches) alewives were captured at any transect location. These results may indicate that 2022 was a low recruitment year for alewives, but also that predation and other mortality was low, allowing some to survive to larger sizes.
  • Finally, acoustic density estimates and midwater trawl catches of bloater have been increasing in recent years; 2022 survey results suggest that densities of bloater continue to remain high and may be increasing regionally in Lake Michigan.

Overall, the forage community is showing signs of improvement that bodes well for future fishing on Lake Michigan.

Saginaw Bay

Saginaw Bay SurveyBased on the 24 trawl tows and 16 gillnet lifts conducted in September by the Department’s R/V Tanner and Channel Cat, initial findings indicate few changes to the Saginaw Bay fishery. Overall, a total of 24 different species were collected by trawling and 27 different species were collected by gillnetting, with no new species collected.

Walleye abundance appears strong, and there are large year classes being documented from 2021 and 2022. Observations of a strong 2021-year class were supported by a large catch of juvenile walleye ranging in size from 10 to 12 inches. The evidence supporting the predicted strong 2019-year class will have to wait until all specimens can be aged in the laboratory this winter. Overall, the mean catch of larger walleye in gillnets (36.6/net) was slightly higher than the average (33.8/net) since 2003. The mean catch of young-of-year walleye in trawls was the highest since 2009, and second highest ever, indicating young walleye production remains very high.

Yellow perch appear to continue to be very depressed in numbers and may be nearing record lows. The catch of larger yellow perch in gillnets remains low (33.5/net), and much less than the average since 2003 (45.3/net). The production of young yellow perch was also noted to be very low, and the trawl numbers were the lowest since 2014. Research also indicated that the survival of yellow perch in their first year of life was low.

Preliminary forage fish numbers appeared to have declined for the second straight year, too, and were below the long-term mean but slightly above the last 10-year mean. The most common forage fish in the trawling by number were trout-perch, sand shiner, white perch, round goby and young age-0 yellow perch.

While the DNR has been working cooperatively with partners including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Geological Survey to restore native cisco to the Saginaw Bay area, no cisco were collected during the survey. A juvenile lake sturgeon, another species with active rehabilitation efforts, was collected in a gillnet and then tagged and released.

“Overall, walleye continue to dominate Saginaw Bay and its fish community, while efforts to improve yellow perch continue to struggle with that component of the fishery and forage fish numbers are generally stable,” said David Fielder, Alpena Fisheries Research Station, research biologist. “We expect the Saginaw Bay fishery will continue to look similar to 2022 for the next few years.”

Lake Erie

Crew of the R/V Channel Cat prepare to lift a gill net Lake Erie is one of the most popular fisheries in our state as it accounted, in 2021, for 14% of the total Great Lakes angling effort, 31% of the catch, a catch rate three times the other Great Lakes waters combined, and an angling intensity more than 54% that of the other Great Lakes waters in our state.

Fisheries surveys and other companion surveys are critical to maintaining this fishery, which Michigan shares with New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania and the Canadian Province of Ontario.

The DNR does two surveys using the R/V Channel Cat to obtain information from Lake Erie’s complex fisheries community:

  • The first is a bottom trawl survey that examines the number of young-of-year walleye and yellow perch in Michigan waters of Lake Erie, contributing to interagency knowledge about reproduction for these two species. This survey, in its ninth year, also documents the relative abundance of forage fish species that live near the bottom.
  • The second survey is a gillnet survey that samples the abundance and age structure of yearling and older walleye in Michigan waters. These data drive the population models that are used to determine the total allowable catch and daily bag limits for walleye in this valuable water. This survey was conducted in October at four locations with two index stations (Stony Point and Luna Pier) that have been sampled every year for 45 years.

Walleye populations remain near the all-time high, with trawling indicating that recruitment continues to be very strong. The age-0 walleye catch rate in the bottom trawl (14 fish caught per 10-minute trawl tow) was comparable to the past two years, coming in above the nine-year average of 11 fish per 10-minute trawl tow. Walleye reproduction during the past seven years has been strong, with multiple large year classes beginning in 2015.

Similarly, older walleye were caught in gillnets this year at rates (150 fish per net lift) 40% greater than the long-term average. This was a 150% increase from last year and the highest rate at index stations since 2005. Of the 404 walleye captured and measured for biological data, nearly 75% were above the minimum size of 15 inches. All these fish have had their stomach contents examined; 80% had food present, with 66% of them having eaten gizzard shad. More information on these larger adults will be gathered this winter when the fish are aged.

Yellow perch populations were found to be holding their own. While reproduction was down, as the trawl catch rate of age-0 yellow perch dropped from last year (>1,200 fish per 10-minute trawl tow to 157 fish per 10-minute trawl tow). This level of young-of-year relative abundance is not unprecedented; in fact, it is comparable to observations during the first four years of the survey (2014-2017).

Survival of young-of-year yellow perch to older ages is needed to increase the abundance of harvestable-sized fish. This seems to be occurring, as the catch rate of yearling and older yellow perch (46 fish per 10-minute trawl tow) was at a six-year high and above the time series average of 33 fish per10 minute trawl tow. Creel data from clerks’ conversations with anglers will be available later this fall and should show whether these fish are appearing in the recreational fishery.

Sufficient number of forage fish are required to support Lake Erie’s important recreational fisheries. Even though bottom trawling shows that forage catch rates were down, driven by a decrease in age-0 white perch and age-0 yellow perch, anglers shouldn’t be concerned about their favorite target species running out of food.

“These collections are on the low end of the range of forage catch rates observed during the last nine years. However, this doesn’t mean that there is a lack of forage in the lake, as our trawls only sample fish that live near the bottom,” said Todd Wills, Lake St. Clair Fisheries Research Station manager. “Walleye health, as measured by visceral (stomach) fat, is very good, and their diets often contain gizzard shad, which are not sampled well by our trawls and live higher in the water column.”

The DNR will know much more about this remarkable urban fishery when all of the fish are aged, survey data is fully examined, creel census data is proofed and creel census biological data is available in early 2023.

To learn more about how the DNR manages fisheries in Michigan, visit Michigan.gov/Fishing.


Photos

Note to editors: Accompanying photos are available below for download. Caption information follows.

  • Trawl: Vessel Technician, Drew Niemiec (middle), teaches Sea Grant interns how to retrieve a midwater trawl during the Lake Michigan hydroacoustic forage fish survey.
  • Rainbow smelt and alewife: A large catch of adult rainbow smelt and alewife collected in a midwater trawl near Ludington during the Lake Michigan hydroacoustic forage fish survey.
  • R/V Tanner: Crew takes measurements from fish collected during the annual fish community survey in 2018.
  • Gill net: Crew of the R/V Channel Cat prepare to lift a gill net used to sample the Lake Erie walleye population.
Purchase a 2023 Annual Vehicle Permit

Purchase a 2023 Annual Vehicle Permit

Purchase a 2023 Annual Vehicle Permit

Annual Vehicle Permits are required at eight of the 14 Oakland County Parks. Purchase onlinein-person or by mail. Active military Annual Vehicle Permits must be purchased in-person.

Sales of 2023 Annual Vehicle Permits begin Nov. 3, 2022.

The one additional permit discount offer is available by mail or at in-person purchase locations only; limit one additional permit. Annual Vehicle Permits are valid through Dec. 31 of the year printed on the permit. Deadline for refund of an annual permit is 30 days.

Annual Vehicle Permits must be permanently affixed to a vehicle. For additional guidelines and tips, click here.

To view a copy of the Annual Vehicle Permit Information Card, click here.

Parks Perks Pass

The Parks Perks Pass provides access to eight Oakland County Parks as well as 13 Metroparks.

Price: $64  Buy Online

​Daily Park Entry
Motor Vehicle Day Use fees for Addison Oaks, Groveland Oaks, Highland Oaks, Independence Oaks, Lyon Oaks, Orion Oaks, Red Oaks Dog Park and Rose Oaks County Park.

  •  $5/car/day: Oakland County Resident Rate
  •  $12/car/day: Regular Rate
  •  $4/car/day: Senior citizens ages 62+/individuals with permanent disabilities/active and retired military/veterans (through Nov. 1, 2023)

Buses/Vans

  •  $1/person (min. $8): Oakland County Resident Rate (Oakland County Parks and Recreation buses are free)
  •  $2/person (min. $10): Regular Rate
  •  $12/bus/van/day senior citizens ages 62+/individuals with disabilities/active and retired military/veterans (12 passenger or larger)

Youth Groups or Walk-ins (Groveland)

  •  $1/person/day: Oakland County Resident Rate
  •  $2/person/day: Regular Rate

Walk-ins/Bike-ins (Addison, Independence, Lyon, Red Oaks Dog Park/Nature Center)

  • ​​ Free Entry

Vehicle Permit Group Discounts

Annual Vehicle Permit quantity discount rates are available for businesses, hospitals, non-profits, churches, schools, corporations, neighborhood associations, sports groups and sports teams.

Quantity                   Price/Permit

25-100                         $25

101-250                       $20

251-500                       $15

Annual Vehicle Permit allows access to eight Oakland County Parks, plus free parking for fireworks display on opening day at the Oakland County Fair, as well as free parking/entry to Oakland County Fair on Oakland County Parks and Recreation Day. Permits are valid through Dec. 31 of year printed on permit.

DNR: Invasive box tree moth found in Lenawee County

DNR: Invasive box tree moth found in Lenawee County

The following news release was issued earlier today by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.


For immediate release: November 7, 2022
Program contact: Andria McCubbin, 517-599-5748
Media contact: Jennifer Holton, 517-284-5724

Invasive box tree moth found in Lenawee County

LANSING, Mich -The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the detection of box tree moth (BTM) (Cydalima perspectalis) at two residences in Clinton located in Lenawee County. Although not a threat to Michigan’s natural resources, extensive feeding from box tree moth can lead to significant defoliation and death of ornamental boxwood.

A box tree moth, with open white wings edged in brown, rests on a boxwood twig. In May 2021, potentially infested boxwood plants were shipped to retail locations in several states including six in Michigan. The pest was then identified in three of the six Michigan facilities. It is not known whether the box tree moth populations detected in Clinton are linked or if the pest entered the state through another pathway.

“Box tree moth poses a serious threat to our boxwood industry,” said Mike Philip, Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division Director with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. “We are in the assessment stage of this response, and we are asking Michiganders to look closely at their boxwood plants and report any signs of this pest so we can determine the scope of this infestation and work to reduce the spread.”

A healthy boxwood shrub shown next to a boxwood infested by box tree moth. The infested shrub is brown with skeletonized leaves.Box tree moth caterpillars are green and yellow with white, yellow, and black stripes and black spots. The caterpillars feed only on boxwoods making them easy to spot. Adult box tree moth has two color forms. The most common form has white wings with dark brown borders, while the dark form has solid brown wings with a white streak or spot on each forewing. Both forms have a distinctive white dot or mark in the middle of each forewing.

Box tree moth may not be easily recognized at the beginning of an infestation because young larvae hide among twigs and leaves. Signs of infestation include chewed, cut, or missing leaves, yellowing or brown leaves, white webbing, and green-black excrement on or around the plant. Larvae skeletonize the leaves and feed on the back, causing defoliation and dryness, eventually leading to the plant’s death.

“MDARD is developing a survey plan to further determine the extent of the infestation,” added Philip. “But Michiganders can be a tremendous help by being on the lookout for box tree moth and reporting it.”

What you can do:

  • Check your boxwood plants for signs of box tree moth.
  • If you see signs of box tree moth, please take a photo and report suspects online.
  • Let state and federal agriculture officials inspect your boxwood for box tree moth.
  • If a new population is confirmed, you may be directed to remove infested branches or, for heavy infestations, cut the boxwood from its base (it should grow back from its roots). Discard all boxwood debris by double-bagging it in plastic and putting it with your household trash.

Visit Michigan.gov/Invasives or Michigan.gov/Invasives/ID-Report/Insects/Box-Tree-Moth to find photos and additional information about box tree moth and other invasive plant pests.

For more information about PPPM visit Michigan.gov/MDARD/Plant-Pest. You may also contact Michigan State University Extension for additional resources on box tree moth at CANR.MSU.edu/Tag/Box-Tree-Moth.


Michigan’s Invasive Species Program is cooperatively implemented by the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy: the Department of Natural Resources; and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.


/Note to editors: Accompanying photos are available below for download. Suggested captions follow.

BTM: Box tree moths are generally white with a brown border and a white “comma” on each forewing.

Boxwood comparison: A healthy boxwood (left) compared to a boxwood heavily damaged by box tree moth caterpillars.

Oakland County’s $20 Million Investment Will Transform Local Parks

Oakland County’s $20 Million Investment Will Transform Local Parks

Oakland County’s $20 Million Healthy Communities Park and Outdoor Recreation Investment Will Transform Local Parks

  • Oakland County and Parks and Recreation Commission investing more than $20 million in local parks in partnership with communities.
  • Portions of Beech Woods Park in Southfield and Shepherd Park in Oak Park, Hawthorne Park in Pontiac, and Ambassador Park in Madison Heights will become the newest additions to the Oakland County Parks system.
  • Grant funding will also provide several local governments with support for local park and recreation facility improvements.

Pontiac, Michigan – The Oakland County Executive Office, Board of Commissioners, Parks and Recreation Commission, and local communities are collaborating to transform local parks by investing more than $20 million in the Healthy Communities Park and Outdoor Recreation Investment Plan.

The Oakland County Board of Commissioners approved utilizing $15 million of the county’s $244 million share of American Rescue Plan Act dollars while the Oakland County Parks and Recreation Commission is providing $5.2 million in matching funds.

“As a former Oakland County Commissioner and mayor of Ferndale, I have been passionate over the years about the need to beef up our parks system in the south end of the county,” County Executive Dave Coulter said. “These projects will add or improve 10 parks in the county’s south end, providing more equitable access to parks in our more densely populated areas, many of which are within walking distance of public transportation.”

The goals of the plan include revitalizing and enhancing parks located in or servicing residents of communities most impacted by the pandemic; improving physical and mental health, social connectivity, and quality of life of residents; and addressing barriers to equitable access and use of quality park and recreation opportunities for residents of all ages and abilities.

“Increasing access in our more populated areas to our county parks and recreation opportunities has long been a priority,” said Oakland County Board of Commissioners Chairman David T. Woodward, who represents Royal Oak. “I’m proud this new parks plan applies an equity lens for the future of parks around the county, so everyone can better enjoy and experience the outdoors while achieving healthier outcomes for all.”

Oakland County Parks and Recreation will make major improvements at select local parks and transition management responsibilities to Oakland County Parks and Recreation. Portions of Beech Woods Park in Southfield and Shepherd Park in Oak Park, Hawthorne Park in Pontiac, and Ambassador Park in Madison Heights will become the newest additions to the county parks system. Oakland County Parks will also partner with the Hazel Park Community Center to develop joint recreation programming facilities.

“The public turned to parks and trailways in record numbers during the pandemic to enjoy the positive impacts spending time outdoors can have on our physical and mental wellbeing,” Oakland County Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Gary McGillivray said. “Oakland County Parks appreciates the support of Executive Coulter and the Commission for this major financial commitment towards improving recreation facilities in our communities. It will pay dividends for generations to come.”

Grant funding will also provide several local governments with support for local park and recreation facility improvements. Among the beneficiaries of these investments are Green Acres Park in Hazel Park, Pontiac municipal parks, Mack-Rowe Park in Royal Oak Township, Shepherd Park in Oak Park, and Beech Woods Park in Southfield, where officials unveiled the plan today during a news conference.

“Those outside and even inside the City of Southfield may not realize it, but we are home to several wonderful parks and nature preserves,” said Oakland County Commissioner Yolanda Smith Charles, who represents Southfield and Oak Park. “Through the use of these funds from the county, we demonstrate both a strong partnership between local governments and a commitment to maintaining and improving green spaces in our region, even in city settings.”

“I’m glad that the county is partnering with Pontiac to provide funding for our parks,” said Oakland County Commissioner Angela Powell, who represents Pontiac. “Residents around our city will now rely more on our outdoor spaces for fresh air and exercise, and it’s important that we keep improving these areas for everyone.”

Communities whose parks will benefit from these major investments are Hazel Park, Madison Heights, Oak Park, Pontiac, Royal Oak Township, and Southfield. Examples of improvements include walking and hiking trails, universally accessible playgrounds, outdoor exercise and fitness equipment, athletic fields and courts, water and winter recreation facilities, natural resource restoration and preservation, and family and group gathering spaces. See the attached Healthy Communities Park and Outdoor Recreation Investment Plan documents for a complete list of conceptual park investments. Click here for more information.

Below are quotes from other local leaders about the $20 million Healthy Communities Park and Outdoor Recreation Investment Plan:

“Oakland County’s investment in Hazel Park’s parks and recreation facilities is truly an amazing game-changer for our community!  Our city will be now able to update badly outdated facilities and equipment to provide vastly improved recreation services for Hazel Park and our neighboring communities.” -Edward Klobucher, Hazel Park city manager

“We are very excited to partner with Oakland County to improve the Ambassador Park in Madison Heights to bring park investment that will benefit residents of all ages. Having spaces for residents of all ages to play and participate in recreational activities is imperative for community building.” -Roslyn Grafstein, Madison Heights mayor

“To create a partnership that focuses on improving parks and recreation opportunities for our residents is something we have been moving toward for a long time. This investment from Oakland County comes at a time when we are working to elevate our public spaces in Oak Park. This partnership will allow us to take our recreation opportunities to new heights while still maintaining the history of David Shepherd Park.” -Erik Tungate, Oak Park city manager

“The City of Pontiac is grateful for the opportunity to enter into partnership with the Oakland County Parks and Recreation Commission and for the commission’s commitment to redevelop Hawthorne Park. Economic development goes hand-in-hand with environmental sustainability and investments in quality of life.  That’s why this budding partnership is so important to Pontiac’s transformation.” -Tim Greimel, Pontiac mayor

“On behalf of Royal Oak Township residents, we would like to thank Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter and his staff, Oakland County Board of Commissioners Chairman David Woodward, and Oakland County Parks and Recreation Chairman Gary McGillivray and his staff for this generous and much appreciated grant award for the improvement of Mack-Rowe Park. This funding will allow Royal Oak Township to replace an outdated playscape, improve the baseball diamond, and add a beautifully designed sports court. All of this will help to create a much needed healthy, robust, and attractive park for our thriving community.” – Donna Squalls, Royal Oak Township supervisor and Donovan Jackson, parks and recreation director

“We are very pleased to be partnering with Oakland County Parks & Recreation for improvements to Beech Woods Park. Oakland County has many great facilities but not all of them at convenient distances for south Oakland residents.  We truly appreciate the county’s desire to develop recreational facilities in Southfield.” -Kenson Siver, Southfield Mayor

Healthy Communities info sheet map10_31.pdf

ARPA poster boards 10_31.pdf